For families that like save money at the grocery store, a freezer is a fabulous appliance to own. With the extra space a freezer provides, a family can stock up on bargain priced frozen meats, vegetables, bread products and convenience foods.
Home freezers come in two different styles. An upright freezer is one that resembles a standard refrigerator with a door that swings outwards. These models contain four or five racks with additional trays or racks in the door. Most uprights take little floor space and are self defrosting. A chest freezer is designed more like a Coleman cooler. These models resemble a chest with a lid that swings upwards.
The type of freezer a family should buy depends on several factors. These include how much storage space is needed, the location of where it will be kept, the price, convenience of use, and how much electricity will it consume.
Most foods kept in a standard home freezer are at their optimal flavor and texture for six to eight weeks. After this period of time, crystals will start to form on the food and the process of dehydration begins. As the moisture leaves the food, it becomes less nutritious, less tasty, and less eye appealing. Food that has begun to dehydrate is usually referred to as being “freezer burned.”
The size of the freezer really depends on how much frozen food you expect to use in a six to eight week period. For our family of four, we discovered that a 5 cubic foot freezer (plus the two cu ft of space already built in above the refrigerator) was large enough.
Both models of freezers come in four basic sizes: compact (5 cubit foot), small (6 to 9 cu ft), medium (12 to 18 cu ft) and large (18+ cu ft). Since most families eat far less frozen food then they did in Grandma’s day, a small freezer usually is large enough for a mid sized family.
Neither style of freezer has an advantage over the other when it comes to storage space with one exception. If you are home canner that freezes preserves and other garden vegetables, an upright freezer makes it much more practical to stack and organize canning jars and freezer containers.
For many people, location is a major factor in deciding what type of freezer to use. Chest freezers do require more floor space than an upright unit, and usually have to be stored in the garage, patio, or in a huge back porch or laundry room. Uprights are more practical for kitchen, smaller laundry rooms, or smaller back porch. If space is an issue, your freezer options are pretty limited to an upright style or smaller compact chest.
In addition to location, price is also a consideration for most families. Compact freezers start at an affordable $150 with the top of line family sized models capping at $1600. Most models seem to fall in the $400-$800 range with chest freezers running slightly less in cost than an upright. For a family on a budget, the 5 cubit foot Kenmore chest freezer is a fabulous buy at $189.
Convenience of use
The convenience of use is also an important factor to consider. Upright freezers tend to be more popular because the food is easy to see, easy to stack, and much easier to reach. Uprights also come with additional features such as racks, trays, and an auto defrost system.
With a chest freezer, frozen food can’t be organized as easily and things do tend to get lost. Reaching down into the freezer can also be a nuisance, especially when trying to lift a 25# turkey from beneath 50 packages of spinach. Another disadvantage is that chest freezers have to be manually defrosted.
For convenience, an upright freezer has a clear advantage over the chest.
Energy Star freezers use a lot less electricity than models of 30 years ago. However, when it comes to lower electrical use, a chest freezer is better than an upright. When an upright is opened, the cold air falls out of the freezer and energy is expended to return the temperature back to freezing. With a chest freezer, cold air doesn’t have the chance to escape.
Of course, a full freezer also uses less electricity than a partially filled unit, which is why it’s important to buy the right size unit to begin with.
Chest freezers and uprights have their plus sides and their down sides, and I’ve owned both kinds. While there is no arguing that an upright freezer is more convenient for large families who put up lots of frozen goods, when it came time to replace our 30 year old unit, our family downgraded to a compact chest freezer.
For families on a budget, compact chest freezers are affordably priced, use less than $2 of electricity a month, and can be conveniently located in the laundry room or kitchen without taking up much space.